Life got you down? There’s a catchphrase for that (2022)

NEW YORK — In her teenage days in the Reform movement, the woman Oprah has described as a “new thought leader” was already directing her peers.

“I was head of my Jewish youth group, NFTY [North American Federation of Temple Youth], from age 12 to 15 and that was honestly the beginning of my career,” says motivational speaker Gabrielle Bernstein. “On the weekends, I was leading Jewish teenagers on these spiritual retreats. It was where I felt the most spiritually lit up and directed and living in purpose. There was this beautiful foreshadowing at that time. I’ve spoken in temples and said my work as a youth group leader was definitely the starting point for me.”

In more recent years, Bernstein has attracted a following as the host of a popular video blog and as the author of a host of New York Times bestselling books, including “May Cause Miracles” and “Miracles Now.”

Her latest title, “The Universe Has Your Back: Transform Fear Into Faith” (Hay House) is published this week.

“My commitment with this book is to wake up as many people as possible to their connection to faith and joy,” Bernstein says. “In that connection, we can be guided to our true purpose: to be love and spread love. These words can no longer be cute buzz phrases that we merely post on social media. Rather, these words must be our mission. The happiness, safety and security we long for lives in our commitment to love.”

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With the High Holidays approaching, Bernstein shared more about her path to love and how she transforms her thoughts everyday in an extensive interview with The Times of Israel.

How did you arrive at the title of your new book?

Actually, it was the title of the last chapter of my first book [“Add More ‘Ing’ To Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness,” 2009] that came through many years ago. In that time, it was about knowing and trusting and having faith.

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Cover, ‘The Universe Has Your Back’ by Gabrielle Bernstein. (Courtesy)

What is new here and how did you come to it?

The new book is a lot more philosophical in many ways. I share a lot of stories and tell the truth in a deeper way than I ever have before in acknowledging some of the discomfort that I’ve had and what I’ve done to do so.

I share a lot more vulnerability in this book. The subtitle is Transform Fear to Faith. This is a very timely title. We are living in times that we need a lot more direction and guidance. There is a call for safety. People are feeling very unsettled and out of balance and what this book will offer people, is more of that.

What does it mean that “The Universe Has Your Back?”

It means trusting that even when things are not going as planned that there is a plan greater than our own. When we have a relationship to a higher power, we can find direction even when we feel powerless.

How does one get there?

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That can be established through religion or a spiritual practice. It doesn’t really matter how you get there, just as long as you do.

It means knowing that you have the capacity to tune into a presence and an energy that is supporting you and around you, and to use that relationship, and tap into that when you are in doubt and struggling.

What do you love most about this teaching?

What I love most about it is that I needed it, too. I wrote it as much for myself as I did for my readers. It was something I had to show up for — for my own happiness and well being.

‘These words can’t just be cute buzz phrases we post on social media. The happiness, safety and security we long for lives in our commitment to love’

What is your advice to someone who is struggling in that tension between trust and fear?

A lot of the work is turning to our faith practice daily and with consistency and being in a constant state of surrender. Particularly with physical conditions, you want to control the outcome. A lot of what is most helpful is acceptance of where you are in this moment and these circumstances, to allow whatever healing can come into this experience so that you will be guided to the healers that can most help you and the books that you need will fall off the shelf.

The challenge is when we are in resistance. It is in the absence of resistance that true healing begins to comes into our life and we can let the Universe support us.

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How does your Jewish identity inform your work?

My Judaism is my first connection to my spiritual faith — not necessarily because of the religious elements of Judaism, but more so the culture and the spirituality… I have a very spiritual mother and was brought up in that environment so I’ve always have a lot of faith and spiritual connection around me.

‘My Judaism is my first connection to my spiritual faith — not necessarily because of the religious elements of Judaism, but more so the culture and the spirituality’

You suggest audiences tap into God, the Universe, Source… however they connect. How do you connect?

I believe I am connecting to angels and spirit guides and ancestors. All of that is falling under the category of God and the energy presence of God, and that is what I can tap into when I tune in and slow down.

You sometimes instruct audiences, “Look at your crazy and call it by its name.” What does that mean?

That means look at your fear. Being on a spiritual path means to witness your fear without any judgment and then, through your prayer and meditation, release it, transform it and transcend it.

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You also advise: “Happiness is a choice that you make.” How has this impacted you? Others close to you?

This is a big one, right? In any moment, you can choose to see through the lens of fear or the lens of love or the lens of…

What does it mean to have a quick comeback rate?

A quick comeback rate is how quickly you restore your thoughts to love.

What is one of your favorite affirmations?

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“Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.” — Wayne Dyer.

What do you say to those people who have suffer so many unfortunate events they might argue the Universe is conspiring against them rather than “having their back?”

‘The Universe is never conspiring against anyone’

The Universe is never conspiring against anyone. When there are several difficult events back to back it’s important to redirect your focus onto what you’re thinking and feeling. Whatever you’re thinking and feeling is impacting your life experience. You can’t always change your circumstances but you can change the way you experience them. By shifting your thoughts and energy you can begin to reclaim your life and reconnect with the support of the Universe. The support is always there; we just resist it. In the absence of resistance, we reconnect to love.

How can a person in challenging circumstances find a sense of peace and trust their joy is also unfolding?

Prayer and meditation are the clearest pathway back to peace. A committed practice of tuning in daily will reconnect you with love and joy. I can say this with conviction. No matter what’s going on in my life, I can always return to love through my meditation and prayer.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors, motivational speakers and, as you call them, your fellow “spirit junkies?”

Do what you love. Joy is the catalyst for success. When you follow your passions then the Universe takes over.

What are the thoughts words and energy that you aim to radiate each day?

Be kind to others.

And what do you understand is your divine mission?

To wake people up to a spiritual relationship of their own understanding.

How much does “A Course In Miracles” impact you?”

“A Course in Miracles” has been one of my great teachers. I still study “The Course” daily. It’s like a gift that keeps on giving. “The Course” offers readers a gentle mental reconditioning and a deep connection to God.

‘I focus on the love: the content, not the form’

How do you reconcile its Christian content with your Jewish self?

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I focus on the love: the content, not the form.

You teach, “I am going to choose to see myself with love today,” or “I am going to choose to see myself with compassion and kindness.” How do you live that?

We won’t live that in every moment, but we can aim for it. We can always choose again and pivot from self-doubt to self-love. It’s a choice.

You also say, “I am going to choose to go slow today.” What if you resist that? What can you learn from that resistance?

This is a tough one for me. Moving fast is a bad habit. When we’re moving fast we’re avoiding an important feeling. Lately, I try to practice feeling the feelings underneath the fast pace.

What resources and rituals support you the most?

I have daily meditation that I would not be able to live without. I have to practice EFT, Emotional Freedom Technique, which is very helpful for me. I have a lot of great teachers, therapies, guides that help me.

‘I wake up each morning and do a 30-minute meditation. I clear my mind and energy before I begin my day. This is crucial.’

What does your typical day look like?

I wake up each morning and do a 30-minute meditation. I clear my mind and energy before I begin my day. This is crucial.

Then I make a cup of tea and typically head to my computer to write or connect with my team. If I’m on the road traveling, things are much different. I’m spending the day preparing for a talk and then leading the talk later that night. On weekends, I like to cook. I try to cook every day. Cooking is my meditation.

What other kinds of meditation do you practice?

It depends on what is happening in my life. There was a time I practiced TM, or Kundalini meditation. I also do creative visual meditations. There are some in the book that you can do.

‘I like to cook. I try to cook every day. Cooking is my meditation’

You say, “No matter what’s up, choose to show up with love. Choose to show up with grace.” How do you do that when life is particularly hard?

Sometimes being sad, disappointed and upset is showing up with grace. If those feelings are authentic and need to be felt then that is your truth. The key is to not get stuck in that place. When you’re ready to release the negative feelings you can breathe your way out, think your way out or even pray your way out.

You also say the morning is the most crucial time to show up with grace and love. Why is that?

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In the morning you have the opportunity to set yourself up to win. Through prayer and meditation you can clear space to receive guidance and be led. You can get out of the way and surrender. A spiritual practice in the morning can greatly change your life.

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